Spotify to the rescue? Digital music brings boost to the industry

Music sales have have risen for the first time in 14 years, mostly on the back of the industry realising it is to their advantage to make music easily and legally available online. The details emerged in two reports that were released yesterday. The IFPI Digital Music Report showed a 0.3% rise, amazingly the biggest rise since 1999. A report by the NPD group showed that peer-to-peer music download services dropped by 17%.

Key points from the IFPI report include that the small percentage rise in sales actually equates to $16.5bn hard cash. Furthermore, digital sales increased  about 9% to $5.6bn, which is around 34% of global music industry sales, indeed in some markets like India, Norway, Sweden and the US, digital channels now bring in the majority of a record companies income.

The most dramatic shift is in paid for subscription services like Spotify. The number of people paying for these service in 2012 rose 44% to 20 million, and IFPI expect subscription revenues to account for over 10% of digital revenue for the first time in 2012. People love these services too, with “77 per cent of users of licensed services rate them as excellent, very good or fairly good.”

There were clearly some specific albums that drove the industries success last year. Oscar winner Adele’s album ’21’ sold 8.3 million units, while Taylor Swift’s Red sold 5.2 million copies. Simon Cowell’s boyband One Direction racked up combined sales of nearly nine million, with their albums ‘Up All Night’ and ‘Take Me Home’.

It’s all proves once again that people are prepared to access entertainment content legally, and pay for it, if there is an easy to use service  available. As the Lena Dunham-created TV programme ‘Girls’ showed, the only way to beat piracy is to make content more accessible around the world through legal channels.

With sharing of music also growing, as YouTube find out how to monetise their legal music services like Vevo, and Spotify and Rdio bring in more social elements, social networking could be a big ‘Like’ for the music industry in 2013.